Genealogy centre solves family puzzle dating back decades

Provided by Genealogie et archives Saint-Laurent
Genealogy centre solves family puzzle dating back decades

From left are Rick Larin

CORNWALL, Ontario – When Gale Nowickyj’s mother passed away last October, Gale was left with a collection of framed documents with no apparent connection to her family, which had been hanging on the walls ever since she was a child. One was a land deed, part of the original United Loyalist land grants from the Province of Canada to Hugh Christie, dated September 9 1853.

She approached Rick Larin, a volunteer at Genealogie et archives Saint-Laurent, located in the Cornwall Public Library, with the thought of donating the material to the centre.

When examining the document, Rick made an unexpected discovery. Hidden behind the picture frame was a $1,000 bond dated November 29, 1904 issued to Aeneas McPhaul by the Catholic Order of Foresters of the St Columban’s Court District 227. The relative face value in today’s dollars would be about $30,000.

Rick set out with considerable interest to find some answers. He had to trace Gale’s ancestry, whose parents were McIntosh and Scott, to see if either of the names(Christie and McPhaul) turned up. Also he needed to find out if the bond was still valid.

After some research he managed to contact the Catholic Order of Foresters and found someone who knew about these bonds. It was a common way for churches to raise funds for construction and other needs years ago. He was assured it had most likely been cashed in because the record is no longer on the books and was probably no longer valid anyway after 112 years. Goodbye $30,000, but still an interesting family heirloom.

A review of Gale’s family tree yielded no direct family connection to the names in the documents but through contacts with people in the St Andrews-Martintown areas, he learned that Aeneas McPhaul’s brother built and owned the corner store across from Quinn’s Inn. Also that a relative from the McIntosh family had once worked for him, which would explain how these documents ended up in Gale’s family home.

With the help of a local historian Art Buckland from St Andrews, Rick finally reached some interested descendants of the McPhaul family. Hilda Seguin(born McPhail) and her cousin Brenda Munroe(also born McPhail).

They all gathered for a reunion in January in the Cornwall Room at the Cornwall Public Library.

Gale Nowickyj was very happy to have reunited the heirlooms with their rightful owners!

Hilda Seguin received the original 1853 deed of land to Hugh Christie, which as it happens was the same land she and her husband bought years ago. A remarkable coincidence!

Brenda Munroe, descendant of Aeneas McPhaul, received the 1904 bond which she proudly displayed at a family wedding in the Caribbean in February, stealing some thunder from the main event!

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